Joe Satriani Says Guitar Hero Revitalized His Instrument
When was the absolute low point for guitarists? According to Joe Satriani, whose CD and DVD ‘Live In Paris: I Just Wanna Rock’ was just released, it was 1998. Not from a creative or recorded music standpoint, but rather how the muscians were received.
“It was the beginning of the high point of video games,” he tells Noisecreep. “People spent more money buying video consoles and playing video games than they did not only buying music, but going to music. That was the year where the industry saw a 63 percent drop in all catalog sales of recorded music. I noticed it in the eyes of the audience that year.”
Satriani continues, “We put out a really big record called ‘Crystal Planet,’ and we went out and played the album live in its entirety. But I just started to get the feeling that the people in the audience lost track of what they were supposed to do at the show. I’d spent the last 10 years having the time of my life, but there was this new thing I was noticing — a zombie effect that the video game industry had over the live audience.”
But when the rhythm game craze kicked off in 2005 with the release of ‘Guitar Hero,’ Satriani knew that guitar would come back in popularity. “There were already great bands,” he says. “A lot of people look at the 1990s and say that it was the end of the guitar heroes. But look at [Rage Against the Machine guitarist] Tom Morello, that was the birth of one of the greatest guitar heroes we’ve got today. So it was always there, and it didn’t surprise me when ‘Guitar Hero’ came out and it became a super hit. The instrument is as vital as any other instrument in popular music, period. Whether you’re into hip-hop or any kind of music, you still identify with the essence of the ‘Guitar Hero’ game, which is playing guitar.”
That doesn’t mean you’ll find Satch mashing buttons on a plastic Gibson replica anytime soon, though. “I touched the thing for a second, and I was afraid it would spoil my real guitar chops,” he admits. “There have been a couple of times where I’ve been to Best Buy and seen some 8-year-old kid completely shred on it, and I’m completely amazed by it. Every time one of my songs comes out on a game, they’ll send me the kit, but I never open them up.”